The Legacy of Kenneth Bickel’s Shoe


Shoe Shrine

It was a chilly Saturday morning at Slippery Rock Area High School, and, as one would expect a school to look like before sunrise on a Saturday morning, all was quiet. However, if someone looked closer, they would be able to see the silhouettes of several members of the cross country team running towards the “sacred” resting place of Kenneth Bickel’s (’21) shoe. The story of Kenneth’s shoe began during the spring track season of 2021, when former SRHS runner Kenneth Bickel blew his shoe out while running the 1600m run during a meet. Despite this issue, Bickel still managed to run a five minute mile, which was a personal record for the senior. After the race had ended, Bickel expressed his nostalgia for the shoe, which he had been using for over two years. His fellow team members decided to commemorate the shoe by burying it in a confidential location with a gold-lettered gravestone above it, which has become a very emotionally significant place to his former teammates.

“It’s really important to me because I was there,” Viktor Zahn (’24) says. “Kenneth isn’t with us anymore, and I was there when it was buried. So, it was kind of a moment between me and Kenneth that we don’t get to have anymore because he doesn’t do cross country. He’s graduated,” the sophomore explained.

Viktor finished his cross country season with a personal record of 18:03 for the 5k, which is impressive for a rookie. Many of the boys cross country team visited the gravestone before Saturday and dual meets this year, claiming that kissing the stone brought good luck for the looming meets. This may or may not be true, as the boys team ended the season with a 4-2 record. It is hoped that as long as the SRXC runners’ shoes continue to pound the pavement, the team will remember the legacy of Kenneth Bickel’s shoe.